Ruskin Square build unlikely to start before 2013

The grandiose multi-million plan to redevelop Croydon’s “Gateway” looks to be stalled, with sources close to the Ruskin Square site suggesting that no substantive building work will begin there before 2013.

Ruskin Square: still just an artist's impression

Since getting revised planning permission for the mixed use scheme last year, the £500 million Ruskin Square has been dealt two real blows to its prospects, with the Eurozone financial crisis and Nestle’s decision to quit Croydon.

“You’ve got to look at the wider economic situation,” a member of the commercial property marketing team told Inside Croydon. “We need to find investors with an appetite for this sort of development.”

So while a renewed marketing campaign for the 1million sq ft of office space is planned for later this year, no concrete development (in the literal sense) will be undertaken on the Norman Foster-designed 29-storey tower and other blocks for at least another 12 months.

It does not assist the long-suffering businesses behind Ruskin Square, led by Stanhope, that just up the street at Dingwall Road, rival developers are marketing 100,000 sq ft of new offices at Renaissance Croydon as “the first speculative office building in Croydon for over two decades”, and all on offer for rents of just £22 per square foot – barely two-thirds of the usual commercial market rate for Croydon.

One of the major factors in Nestle choosing to abandon their 50-year-old tower on Park Lane and move their HQ to an industrial estate near Gatwick Airport by the end of this year was the offer of rents significantly lower than those available in Croydon.

Ruskin Square, the prestige development scheme alongside East Croydon station, has already been stalled for five years.

The Construction Enquirer reported yesterday that “main construction is believed to be moving closer”, with Mace – Croydon Council’s favoured consultants for the “Hub” – acting as construction manager for Stanhope.

However, sources close to the Ruskin Square project today told Inside Croydon, “We’re a long way from starting to build on the site.”

Ruskin Square has been blighted since 2007 by a development saga which involved costly public enquiries and much political blundering over a rival scheme for a Croydon Arena.

Stanhope‘s impressive track record for office developments includes the BFI’s iMax at Waterloo, Bishopgate, Broadgate and Paternoster Square in The City.

The £500 million Croydon mixed use scheme includes the ambitious 1 million sq ft of offices, 560 apartments – half of them due to be “affordable housing” – and some open space and leisure facilities, including a new Warehouse Theatre.

Jon Rouse, the council’s CEO, has described the site thus: “Ruskin Square is critical to Croydon’s regeneration – it’s the primary gateway into the borough, occupying a key site between the town centre and one of the capital’s busiest transport hubs at East Croydon station.”

An important “encourager” for the developers has been Croydon undertaking to use public money to part-finance the building of a second bridge/ticket office to the north of the existing East Croydon station buildings, linking to Cherry Orchard Road, which is due to open next year. The people behind the Renaissance offices, Abstract Securities, are also marketing their building on the convenience of this new facility.

According to the Ruskin Square source, they are now setting out to “sell the location”.

“Nirvana for us would be to find a potential client who would want to take 100,000 sq ft,” the source said. After Nestle withdrew from the reckoning, the developers are seeking interest from government departments who are renting expensive space in Victoria, insurance companies in EC3, or new media companies.

“We are looking at selling Croydon as a location, as an extension to London, but far less expensive than London.

“There’s been no real development of the office stock in Croydon for more than 20 years, and in that time Croydon has been overtaken by Canary Wharf and other locations around the capital. We want to encourage companies to move to our site, to try to create a hub which is offering state of the art new office space at a fraction of the £50 or £60 per sq ft rents that they are paying, as somewhere where you can reach the West End or The City with relative ease.”

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in East Croydon, Environment, Jon Rouse, Planning, Property, Ruskin Square, URV and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Ruskin Square build unlikely to start before 2013

  1. derekthrower says:

    The scheme for Ruskin Square is in serious trouble. The analysis for it’s creation now seems a long time ago. Uncertainty is the only certainty for the local economy in the medium term. Another bad news story is developing here.

  2. At last! An element of sanity amid the froth that preceeds this year’s Mayoral election and the misleading nonsense that passes for press releases from Croydon Council.

    The commercial truth is that Croydon, in common with most other locations across the country, is an unattractive investment for commercial property speculators.

    The bottom has dropped out of the market and it will be a long time before we see any green shoots of recovery. When that happens, property speculators will want a lot of convincing that Croydon is a good place to put their money – in part because they remember how much the local authority interferes with the market in this town and how high an opinion it has of its own worth.

    Make plans by all means, Croydon, but include a generous degree of humility.

  3. Pingback: The Inertia of #Croydon « The Cronx

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